Identify and describe both quantitative and qualitative educational research models in order to critically analyze existing research and to design an applied research proposal.

In February 2009, I wrote a blog post titled “a legal critique of research methods” that includes a long quote from a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision that I describe as ‘tearing several studies to shreds.’ (Wilder, 2009). As an instructor, I have incorporated the post into class discussions about empirical research and public policy, with a focus on the difference between causation and correlation. The critical analysis of research was a core learning objective in every course I taught as a criminal justice instructor, and Brookfield (1995, p. 1) critiques educational research in similar terms:

Despite the plethora of journals, books and research conferences devoted to adult learning across the world, we are very far from a universal understanding of adult learning. Even though warnings are frequently issued that at best only a multitude of context and domain specific theories are likely to result, the energy expended on developing a general theory of adult learning shows no sign of abating. Judged by epistemological, communicative and critically analytic criteria, theory development in adult learning is weak and is hindered by the persistence of myths that are etched deeply into adult educators’ minds (Brookfield, 1992).

With that perspective in mind, I developed an applied research proposal in CCE 588 (Graduation Portfolio and Applied Research Proposal). My proposal is a mixed methods study that incorporates both quantitative and qualitative research models to explore the concept of “digital dissonance,” and emphasizes a variety of limitations on the generalizability of the findings in the proposed study, including the rapid rate of technological development, “as noted by the Education Week Research Center in 2011, “the kinds of studies that produce meaningful data often take several years to complete—a timeline that lags far behind the fast pace of emerging and evolving technologies.” (Education Week, 2011).” (Wilder, 2014).

The limitations of educational research in the context of a rapidly developing technological environment may encourage instructors to focus on enhancing needs assessment components in their courses, similar to the survey conducted in IT 546 to “take a general census of the students’ access to technology and comfort and skill level with technology.” (Dagnon, 2014). My CCE 588 applied research proposal takes a similar approach, by seeking to assess the frequency and nature of web technology use by students, and exploring whether a relationship exists with student attitudes about LMS features (Wilder, 2014). This approach may help generate context-specific data that can inform teaching practice and promote dialogue with learners about their learning experience.



Brookfield, S. (1995). Adult Learning: An Overview, in A. Tuinjman (ed.) (1995). International Encyclopedia of Education. Oxford, Pergamon Press

Dagnon, P. (2014, June). CIIA: Innovative Teaching Showcase: Paula Dagnon – Portfolio. Western Washington University Center for Instructional Innovation and Assessment. Retrieved June 7, 2014, from

Education Week Research Center. (2011, September 1). Technology in Education. Education Week. Retrieved from

Wilder, R. (2009). A Legal Critique of Research Methods. Learning Document. Retrieved from

Wilder, R. (2014). Digital Dissonance? An Exploration of Student Experience with Web Technology and Student Attitudes Towards LMS Features. Learning Document. Retrieved from


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